What’s the Difference Between an i5 and i7 Processor?

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The Short Answer

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The Slightly Longer Answer

i5 processors are cheaper than i7 processors.

The Longer Answer

A processor is the most important part of any computer, whether desktop, laptop or smartphone. A Central Processing Unit (CPU) is the heart of any computer and without one you’d be looking at a blank screen and trying to work out why you can’t play Angry Birds.

A computer is made of many components, such as RAM (Random Access Memory), hard drive or Operating System and upgrading any of these will increase the performance of your device. You can also upgrade the CPU as well and if your computer is increasingly ‘going slow’ it might be worthwhile to get a newer one.

As such, the type of CPU is important. Intel are the largest manufacturer of CPUs and they make a wide variety of them. Core i3 and m3 chips are mainly used in budget systems and as their names may suggest they are not high-powered enough for modern use. Core i9 CPUs are mainly used in high-performing computers that need a lot of processing power. Good luck if you can afford one but it’s most likely that your computer will be using either an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor.

Put simply Core i7 processors have more capabilities than Core i5 and are better high-endtasking, high end graphics and programmes that require extensive calculations. On average a Core i7 processor is about £55 more expensive than an i5, and that might be an investment you may want to make if you’re constantly complaining that the device you use is too slow.

At its simplest, Core i7 processors have a faster base clock speed. This is the number of pulses generated by an oscillator in a processor that sets how fast that processor will perform. The faster the base clock speed is, the better it will perform. Core i7 processors also have a larger on-board memory (or cache) to better deal with the repetitive tasks all computers have to regularly perform. If a computer is calculating a spreadsheet, say, it is better if you’re CPU isn’t constantly having to ‘remember’ tasks from other places. If it’s already in the cache, calculations can be instantaneous. On average most Core i5 processors have 9 MB of memory whilst Core i7 processors have up to 12 MB.

Back in the day, if you wanted to play a high-performance game on your computer – one that used a lot of quick moving graphics with high detail – it was recommended you have a seperate graphics card installed. These graphic cards were essentially another CPU designed especially for the high processing needed for such games. But technology moves on and today’s CPUs can now handle such tasks and, because they’re not using a seperate CPU for graphics, they can save power. Even Core i5 processors can handle plenty of whizzy graphical content, such as HD videos with ease.

To cut a long story short, the vast majority of computer users, who only use their computers to surf the net or watch videos will be happy with a Core i5 processor but if you want to use programmes or games that would slow down a normal computer, upgrade to a computer with a Core i7 processor.


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